Medical Articles

Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA)

Patent ductus arteriosus is a common congenital heart problem often diagnosed in young dogs. The ductus arteriosus, a blood vessel present in unborn animals, normally closes at the time of birth. During embryonic development, this blood vessel carries oxygen-rich blood from the mother to the fetus, bypassing the young animal's lungs.

At birth, the young animal begins to breathe and oxygen is obtained by the lungs. The ductus arteriosus closes and normal circulation is established. The problem occurs when the ductus arteriosus does not close.

PDA is commonly diagnosed in animals less than one year old. Small, young animals can often tolerate this congenital defect for long periods of time. Depending upon the severity of the problem, and the age and size of the dog, heart failure may develop suddenly or not at all.

PDA is commonly diagnosed in animals less than one-year old.

PDA is often diagnosed during routine puppy vaccinations. A heart murmur, combined with a strong arterial pulse, alerts the veterinarian to the possibility of the disease.

If PDA is suspected, additional diagnostic tests are necessary. Electrocardiography (ECG), x-rays, and / or echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound) are indicated in order to obtain an accurate diagnosis.

Surgical correction of PDA is possible. When the surgery is performed by a veterinary cardiac surgeon, the prognosis is usually excellent. Without surgery, 60% of affected puppies die within one year after diagnosis.

If surgery is a consideration, it must be done at a very early age. Your veterinarian can recommend a surgeon (or a major referral hospital) who is qualified in cardiac surgery.

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